"Do you have salvation yourself?"

Lashall McClain walked into the room “looking for a fight.” After several days at New Years Conference 2011, she felt isolated, angry and alone.

“Two girls were talking and I butted into their conversation,” Lashall shared. “It was like the room went silent. One of them was a senior leader and she finally said, ‘Lala, I’m not trying to find a fight with you.

You might know all of the answers, you might know the Bible, but salvation is through the Son alone. Do you have salvation yourself?’ She dropped the mic on me.”

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Throughout the conference, Lashall, who grew up attending church and Vacation Bible School, felt uncomfortable. It was if God was asking, “If you’re a Christian, why don’t you want to be around my people?” and “If you’re a Christian, why don’t you want to worship with my people?”

That night, she lay awake, replaying the conversation.

“At 12 or 1 o’clock, I just started crying. I prayed, ‘Can you make me brand new? Can you take these steps?’”

The next day, Lashall told that same senior leader:

“I think I came to Christ, I need discipleship.”

Lashall’s life took a completely new direction. Before New Year’s Conference, Lashall had considered leaving the University of Memphis. But through Campus Outreach, she found new purpose and community there.

During her first beach project in 2012 Lashall experienced God’s love and faithfulness. As a minority student, Lashall often felt misunderstood, but had clung to the God who knew her intimately.

Then, on a Cross Cultural project to South Africa in 2014, Lashall’s entire team was considered a minority group because they were American. That experience gave her a new perspective on race differences. 

“A lot was going on in my heart there,” Lashall shared. “I had to ask, ‘where is my identity?’ God helped me understand (that) my relationship with Him was uniquely based in the race where He made me.

I decided to give my life away to full-time ministry then and there and committed to go on staff with CO.”

After four years on staff at the University of Memphis, Lashall has seen Campus Outreach embrace diverse worship styles and intentional training for Beach Project Leaders.

“Instead of reacting to racial issues, we try to anticipate them. If there’s been a shooting or something in the news, we look for opportunities to bring the gospel into a conversation about racial reconciliation. We’re having the conversations from top to bottom, preparing our leadership,” she said. “When we open a space where no one is a ‘know-it-all’ in a situation, it sets the tone for the entire project. We can say, ‘I don’t care what color you are, Jesus died for all of us.’”

In June, Lashall stepped down from CO staff and accepted a  position with a local Memphis ministry. In her new role, Lashall actively helps families navigate difficult situations like financial hardship, incarceration or drug abuse.

“It’s all about relationships, CO taught me that. I learned how to win people to Christ and naturally look for ways to engage people in ministry, to meet them where their needs are.” 

Lashall is leaving behind a strong CO legacy. In 2018, she led a CCP to South Africa with several of the young women she discipled. While watching them experience God’s faithfulness in a foreign context, Lashall helped each make a commitment to serve Christ after college.

“Two are considering doing the LEAD program in South Africa, another is praying to go to Zambia (a new CO initiative), and another is committed to serving as a nurse in an inner-city hospital.”

Without your support, CCP’s, Leadership Projects and the LEAD program wouldn’t exist. Through your generosity, students like Lashall and her discipleship group are experiencing Christ and expanding His kingdom.

To find out more about the LEAD program and how you can support these rising leaders, check out cointernational.org/

Bennett Rolan